Night is Almost Gone
1 Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. 5 Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.
11 And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. NASB
“Night is almost gone and the day is at hand.” Salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. If this was true for Paul and the congregation of believers in Rome, it is certainly true for us. The coming of the Mighty One, The Savior and Lord of All Things is near at hand. The Bible teaches that God will soon burn up this world and will create a new heaven and a new earth in which we who love and serve Him will live and enjoy for all of eternity. The enemies of God will be cast into the lake of fire that burns for eternity.
How then ought we to live in this world of darkness? It is time for us to awaken from our sleep and join in the battle for truth and right and good. The battle is not against governments. The battle is not against those people around us who trouble us and sometimes make us want to pull our hair out. The battle is against the forces of darkness and the enemies of God. The Devil, the godless world view of society, and our own flesh that leads us away from the light and truth of the One True God who made us and loves us and wants to live in us.
This is why we must put off the old man and put on the new man: the new man who was born when you received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Stop living with self on the throne and allow God to be Supreme in your thinking and living. Offer yourselves as living sacrifices to the one who knows you best and yet loves you the most.
Up through chapter 11 of this letter to the church at Rome, Paul is laying the foundation for what comes after. He told us why we need salvation and how it comes to us. We all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory that God wants for us. The glory of His Presence in our life. We have in various ways rejected His love and His Lordship.
But the way out is not to reform and become better people. The way out is to surrender to the One who can transform us. It is to be no longer conformed to the ways of thinking we learn from society, but to be transformed, by the renewing of our minds. It is to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God. Surrender to Him who can change you. When Peter and John healed the lame man, Peter ended his message to the leaders of the Jews with this statement:
by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead — by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11 "He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very corner stone. 12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."
A relationship with God cannot be purchased by our good deeds. We cannot balance our good and bad deeds and hope to come out ahead. It is by putting our trust in the God who Created us, the God who loves us so much that He became a man in order to die in our place. We become Christ like by trusting Him to lead us and guide us.
This is why Paul tells us to put off the old man and put on the new man who has been created in the likeness of God, in the likeness of Jesus Christ. When we have put our faith in Him to make us righteous, only then, can we begin living in relationship with God and fulfill the law by walking in fellowship with God. It is His presence, His Spirit in us, that makes us holy.
We may be good people all our lives, but until we put our trust in God instead of in our own goodness, we are not living as God intended us to live. When we have accepted His forgiveness and believe He loves us and can lead us by His Spirit we can begin to experience the glory we were created for. Until then, we fall short of our intended purpose. Only God can give us the true meaning we were created for.
That is why Paul tells us, to have a proper respect for the government under which we live. Our ultimate allegiance is to God. But God would have us respect the authority that He has placed over us in this world. God is in control. He is the one who sets men up as leaders in this world. When He is ready He will take them out. Until then we are to respect this tool of God that He uses to maintain a certain amount of order in the world. In the meantime, He works in the lives of individuals, to lead them to the truth and to give them what they need to be His servants and to carry out His mission in the world.
Paul says, “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” He was inspired by God when he wrote those words to the Romans. And it is just as true for us today, whether we live in the United States of America, or in Russia, or China or Uganda, or any other nation upon the earth.
Render to all what is due: taxes, honor, submission to authority, or whatever. Christians who are trusting God to lead them will be honorable citizens of whatever nation God has placed them in.
You might well ask then how do we know when it is time to be part of a movement to replace a government. Do all you can to work within the system. Trust God to lead you, to lovingly effect the changes He wants to make. If our goal in life is to follow Him, as He called us to do when we were first saved, He will show us the right way to protest and make changes in the government we live under. Until then, be the best citizen you can be where God has planted you. Focus on serving Him and loving those He has given you to love.
And keep looking up! He will return soon to call us home. This is no small truth. It is the hope that we live for. It is the hope that encourages us to hold on when the world around us has no peace. He is with us. He is within us. He is coming back. Be ready when He comes. Be walking in the Spirit, not in the flesh.
Therefore render to all what is due and “owe nothing to anyone except to love one another.” Do you want to know what God wants from you? Are you struggling to know His will for your life? My best advice is seek Him and while you are seeking Him, keep your eyes open for those opportunities to love those around you. Those opportunities are God sent.
On Wednesday evenings we are talking about peace making. We are learning that conflicts are common to us all. Conflict is not wrong or bad. It only becomes bad when we handle it incorrectly; when we do not use it as an opportunity to glorify God and to seek the best for those with whom we are having those conflicts. That is another way of saying we love God and love our neighbor. Once again we are reminded of what Our Lord said were the two greatest commandments.
This is another way of saying “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” You cannot glorify God and love your neighbor as long as you are walking in the flesh, that is, as long as self is on the throne of your life. So, as Paul said, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regards to its lusts.
The lusts of the flesh are those desires which promote us instead of promoting Christ. The lusts of the flesh are those desires that put us either above or below other people. So I ask you, Who is on the throne in your life? Who controls you? Your own desires or God? Are you the captain of your own soul? Do you believe that you have the right to direct your own life?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. Some of you may have memorized this verse. Do you believe it? Do you believe that God will direct your path, or are you still trying to figure out for yourself what you should do?
Another way to put it would be to ask, are you seeking God's will, or are you seeking God?
We must seek God above all else. Trust Him to love you and to lead you. He does not just want you to figure out what to do, He wants to walk with you through whatever you are facing. He is with us. He is to be called Emmanuel for a reason. Jesus told the disciples that HE would be with us always, even to the end of this age.
When He said He would direct our path, He was not just saying He would give you directions so you could go off on your own and live according to the directions. He was saying, along with the directions He gave, He would be with us and help us to know how to apply those directions to each situation we find ourselves in. He is with us!
Do you know about God, or do you know God? There is a big difference.
Night is almost gone. The light has come. Allow the light to fill you and flow through you. He is with us in ways we may not fully comprehend today. Now we see through a glass darkly, but the day is coming when We will be with Him in ways we cannot know yet.
“The night is almost gone and the day is at hand... put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”